Friday, August 8, 2014

How London became the child abuse capital of the world

BANGKOK. The little girl winks, then runs her tongue around her upper lip. ‘Do you want a good time, Mister?’ she says.

‘Come and have some fun with me. I’ve got a room nearby,’ she adds, describing the sex acts on offer in perfect English.

Too perfect.

‘Where are you from?’ I say.

‘London. Well, Nigeria.’

‘How old are you?’ I ask.

‘Do you like them young? I’m cute.’ She winks again.

Horror, revulsion and pity sweep me in equal measure. I make it clear why I’m here. I’m a researcher and she agrees to talk at the nearby cafe. Her name is Grace.

I knew I would encounter sex tourists: it is what I’ve been investigating for my next book. But I hadn’t expected to meet a child from Africa with a London accent on the streets of Thailand.

Grace explains she was brought from Nigeria to Britain where she was moved from house to house. Then, after two years, she was flown to Bangkok.

She works the streets under the watchful gaze of a pimp because even in the hypocrisy of Thailand she would be too young for the main sex bars.

Here, between Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy, she has a ripe market of sex tourists, many of them British.

The more I ask Grace, the less she tells. She glances over her shoulder. There’s fear in her red-stained eyes. Eyes that have seen too much in so slight a body. For one thing I do discover: Grace is 12 years old.  (more...)

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